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Thursday, 8 October 2015

10th Anniversary Classic Rant: REAL Intelligent Gaming

Over on theRPGsite, I'd been arguing lately about what geeks consider "intelligent"; and what you can consider "Intelligent" gaming.

To me, its not "intelligence" to be able to fiddle with numbers like some kind of Rain Man, anymore than it makes you "educated" to have read every "Forgotten Realms" and "Star Trek" novel ever published. These are just different kinds of quasi-autistic obsessive-compulsive activity, that for some reason far too many nerds misinterpret as "intelligent".

When I want an RPG to be intelligent, I don't mean that I want it to be one where you are rewarded for diddling with the rules, anymore than when I say that I want people to be kind to animals I don't mean that I want someone to get a prize for fondling a goat. 

There's nothing intelligent about a situation where intentionally ignoring all considerations to setting, character, or emulation of genre actually PAYS off, so that the sucker is the guy who plays the archetype. One thing I hate about 3.x as it stands is that if you have a guy who plays a straight Fighter, a regular Joe Orc-killer, he's going to be penalized for it.

Its a given fact that regular Joe Orc-killer (and his player) will be utterly eclipsed by the fucktard who made a halfling warrior/rogue/bard/orcslayer combo, took the special "orc slaying" feat-combo and maxed out his "knowledge:cooking" skill to take advantage of Obscure Synergy Bonus #3897 that effectively ends up giving him a +39 to Orc Slaying.

So suddenly, the guy who trusted that having a trusty fighter was pretty much the definition of the guy who was going to be killing orcs in the party is faced with an assmunch who's playing a halfling whatever-the-fuck-class-it-is master-chef that's making Joe look useless, and Joes' player's fun is ruined.

There's nothing intelligent about that.

So what IS an intelligent game? Obviously its not diddling with the rules, and you can bet that I'm not going to say its "sophisticated story" or "narrative theme" or any of that bullshit. No, an Intelligent Game is one that rewards not mechanical cleverness and trying to "break" the system, but one that rewards clever ideas in play. 

I've tried to embody this concept of intelligent play in my own Forward... to Adventure!

FtA! is certainly not a pretentious game in the sense of being about some kind of arrogant psuedo-intellectual or "artsy" subject, but in practice it almost always leads to some really clever game play. The reason for this is simple: I took away from the D&D format almost everything that allows you to try to "break" the rules (no multiclassing, no secret bonuses, no feats, no prestige classes) and in its place I put mechanics that reward careful tactics and clever risky ideas into the actual system.

This is done with the combat system, where each class (archetypal classes as they are) have their own particular role to fill. Everyone has their thing to do, and you have to think as a team. The collective nature of combat means that any single PC can't end up outshining the others, and that numbers of combatants becomes very important. Positioning becomes very important too, you can't get into a fight with 8 orcs and have your 4 PCs just pile all together on one of them at a time, confident that the others won't be able to do enough damage to matter.
If you're in an 8 vs. 4 combat situation, unless you're massively higher level than your opponents, your first priority in FtA! will be to try to position yourself in a way that you get as close to 4 vs. 4 as possible (ie. so that 4 of the 8 orcs won't be able to actually hit you, and thus won't participate in the combat). Taking down any of those 8 orcs before they can participate in melee could make the whole difference in the game, so a wizard or an archer becomes very important. If one of those orcs is a "leader" of some kind, you'll want your rogue to try to "Stunt" him (more on that later) to keep him from participating. And so on; the point won't be what funky feats you've bought, it'll be how you actually structure your team in combat against the other guys.

The other part of the intelligence behind FtA! is in the stunts. Instead of having Feats that you buy to give you ways to cheat the system, you have a built in mechanic to let you try to make some kind of special maneuver, any kind of maneuver, in order to give your side a temporary bonus, give their side a temporary penalty, or even disable one of the opposing side without directly fighting him. So FtA! becomes an intelligent game in that it encourages your PCs to be clever in the moment of the actual play, rather than in how good they are at making a maxed-out "character build".


(Originally posted August 20, 2007)

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Conference on Whether Feminists Have a Problem With Free Speech Bans Any Speaker They Disagree With

I don't usually do two political posts in a row on here (especially now that I try to save them for, but my Sertorius review is never-ending (it is a nearly 500 page book, after all), and this is just too funny/tragic.

A conference in Manchester University was organized on the subject of "Does modern Feminism have a problem with Free Speech?"

Before the conference ever happened, Feminists made sure the answer was "Yes, without a doubt".

How?  They made the Manchester SU ban two of the announced speakers. Milo Yiannopoulos, the fantastically gay rising star of the Cultural Libertarian movement, and Julie Bindel, a lesbian radical feminist and writer for the Guardian.

So Feminists, when asked whether they have a problem with free speech, respond by banning a gay man and a lesbian woman from speaking because these two don't support the ideological narrative-bubble the feminists want to push on the world.

Seriously, we've gotten to maximum self-parody here. There's no fucking way to tell the difference anymore between things that Pseudo-activists actually do, and mockery of the same.

Seriously, what the fuck is wrong with these assholes?!  How do they imagine they can keep pretending for a second that they believe in free speech, when they BAN PEOPLE FROM SPEAKING at a motherfucking FREE SPEECH CONFERENCE??!


Fuck it. I'm done playing nice with these pieces of human excrement.  They have betrayed the spirit of academia, the traditions of western civilization and its freedoms, and they have the ridiculous arrogance to think that this gang of under-educated intellectual fashionistas with delusions of grandeur have some kind of moral superiority that entitles them to run everyone else's life.  They deserve all the insult and mockery any of us can throw at them.  They aren't even worth arguing with now; just making fun of. This stupid gang of fuckers need to be treated like the mental defectives they are and not given the benefit of any kind of attempt at sincere discourse, because they have gone above and beyond proving that they don't have the slightest bit of principles or the least bit of intellectual rigor to make that discourse worth it.

They need to be laughed at, constantly, and if they cry and play the victim card, Good! Let them play it over and over again at people saying mean things to them until everyone else is sick to death of these stupid fuckers and their whining privileged sense of self-importance, where disagreement is 'harassment' and insult is 'rape culture' and laughter is 'assault' (and clapping is 'patriarchy').  These moral and intellectual cowards who lack the backbone to defend their flawed and worthless ideas on a level playing field, and instead want to resort to censorship to silence those they know they couldn't defeat in debate. Let them cry wolf until no one will ever pay attention to their whining ever again. Let them be mocked off the stage.

Let's up the game, until the farce gets to be just too much for the common man, and they reject the nonsense and drivel and flawed dangerous ideology of civilizational destruction these shitheads are selling.

You thought I was "problematic" before? I've got a Twitter account now, bitches. You ain't seen nothing yet.


Currently Smoking: Lorenzetti Poker + H&H's Beverwyck

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Everyjoe Tuesday: Wish the Left Could Stand for Speech Edition

I'd be over the moon if the Left got back to defending freedom of speech on more than those very few occasions where it's suddenly convenient for them.

But if they don't, I'm going to stand with the people who stand with me. My Everyjoe article today points out that all the people who have a problem with sites like Everyjoe or Breitbart standing up for free speech should really be asking why the fuck Salon or Kos never ever ever do (except in the most hypocritical way, when one of their own, like the woman who is now facing criminal charges for tweeting "#killallmen", comes along).

In other news, we can now confirm that the eschaton is approaching, because I'm now on Twitter
WARNING: 90% of what I post there will be politics.  If you're not into that, don't bother following me there. 


Currently Smoking:  Lorenzetti Horn + H&H's Beverwyck

Monday, 5 October 2015

Re-thinking Everything We Assume About RPG Self-Publishing

I read an interesting article the other day, written by a guy who realized some hard truths about his work in the game publishing hobby.

What's said here applies to RPGs just as much.  There's this STUPID fucking idea that everyone has to be their own publisher (that, as with most stupid ideas in RPGs, came out of the Forge).  But why?

I wouldn't be any good at it, nor would I like doing it.  Other people, who might be good publishers, are shit writers or game designers.  It would be much smarter for the hobby if there was a mix of "publisher guys", "game designer guys" and a few who might be both.

The problem most people have with that route is that they don't think they could get someone else on board with their game.  But like the article says: if you can't do that, your game probably sucks.  I've never had a problem getting people to publish my games, and maybe part of that is because I'm internet hobby-famous, but another part is that my games kick ass.

If you present an interesting enough idea, you'll find someone who'll want to take a chance on teaming up with you to publish it.


Currently Smoking: Mastro De Paja Bent Apple + Dunhill Early Morning

Sunday, 4 October 2015

I'm a Movement!

It's a funny thing, overhearing some gamers referring to you as a style/movement in GMing.

I am far from the be all and end all of the spectacular RPG community in Uruguay, which was already cool before I got here and has a ton of great people and stuff going on besides my presence.

But I guess I have made an impact. I know there are some games played here that are only here because I brought attention to them. And I've run a lot of games with a lot of people.

So maybe I shouldn't have been surprised when I heard someone talk about how someone else's GM-ing style is of the "Punditist" school.  And that certain things are a very "Punditist" feature of GMing.

So in the same sense as impressionism, cubism, etc., are to art, apparently Punditism or the Punditist school is a specific 'school' of the craft of GMing, where enough people have played under me (hell, there are crazy numbers who learned how to play from me, whose start in RPGs here was with me), that when they GM now they incorporate details into their game.

On interrogation with the people who said it, this ranges from meaningful and sweeping details, like having a vast number of NPCs, and a powerful sense of a living world, to particular quirks and minutiae, like having a fast and loose style with stats and and the 'theater of the mind' combat style; to comedic details (having some comedic parts to even the most serious of games being one feature of Punditism, no doubt), like how you can tell the bosses by the size of their mustaches.

So yeah, there's something funny about that, because I never made a manifesto or set myself up to play this part.  It was just a function of me being a fanatical GM and 12+ years gaming with a ton of people.


Currently Smoking:  Ben Wade Rhodesian + Image Latakia

Saturday, 3 October 2015

10th Anniversary Classic Rant: Shut Down MY Computer For a Day? No, and Go Fuck Yourself

I've always thought these thematic "days" for some social activism or another tended to be more show than meaning; I'm not talking about stuff like Martin Luther King Day or even Earth Day (which are basically just glorified holidays; someone pretty smart once said that you know whatever message King had had been successfully subverted on the day the government declared a national holiday in his honour); no, I'm talking about days like "Turn off your TV" day, or "Buy Nothing Day". Days made up by mostly addle-minded lefties who are trying to make some kind of point even they don't understand about the "difference" even one day of changing our routines can make.

Except, as far as I see, the difference is zilch. I mean, ok, if there was an international "Don't Drive Your Car" day, it would make some kind of a difference, however minute, in diminishing emissions for that one day. But if you only get a few thousand, or even a few hundred thousand, people doing it; the overall effect is utterly negligible. And if you really got enough people doing it to make an impact, all you'd end up showing is the massive infrastructure problems we would have if people stopped driving their cars all at once.

But the fundamental point is that if you really give a fuck about our critical problems relating to oil, consumption, and the environment, then not driving your car for one day isn't going to make a difference. What would make a difference is giving up your car permanently; or making a permanent commitment to change your consumption habits. These one-day events are just a feelgood, like the "easter christian" who goes to church once a year to feel religious.

But beyond that, many of these thematic days are positively idiotic. "Buy Nothing Day"?! That's practically an act of willful sabotage on civilization. And what the fuck is it trying to prove? Nothing; its just meaningless anarchy thought up by a gang of dope-headed college kids who read too much Noam Chomsky.

"Turn off your TV day"? Fuck, why? What's the point of that. Why not a "Don't Watch Stupid TV Day"?

But today I heard the one to beat all: "Shut Down your Computer Day". Apparently some group of utter fuckheads are trying to organize a worldwide day where everyone supposedly turns off their computers. Why? I didn't bother to even fucking consider it. There is no possible argument that could convince me.
This is just the worst, most unadulterated form of Luddite wobblebrained idiocy imaginable. A willful appeal to barbarism. Computers, and especially the internet, have revolutionized human culture, and in an overwhelmingly good way. To rail against them is to rail against all that is best about the modern world. The Internet in particular is the freest, most universal, most egalitarian, most democratic form of medium ever devised.

At least with television, you have the "Boob tube" argument, that its an utterly passive medium controlled by a tiny conglomerate of corporations, that transmit "infotainment" to you which you are expected to absorb unquestioningly like a vegetable absorbs sunlight. This isn't really true either, but at least it paints an effective picture. 

But the internet? The Internet, and computers in general, are something you have to go out and DO. You have to participate. What you process depends entirely on your will to involve yourself. And you or anyone else has an equal chance to have a voice. No one can stop it, or control it, at least not yet (and hopefully ever). It allows us to show the best of human culture, and the worst of our basest instincts. It will probably come to be looked upon as the most significant, most revolutionary invention of the 20th century, that made the most change on our society and culture. The internet is also a collective, the more people who participate, the greater the amount of information and communication that can happen.

We should be trying to get more people to turn computers on, not trying to get people to turn theirs off.

So my message to the guano-gathering jellyminded idiots who thought up this "shut down your computer day" is this: Go Fuck Yourselves. I'll turn off my computer when I'm dead.


(Originally posted February 26, 2007)

Friday, 2 October 2015

DCC Campaign Update: "We're Finally the LESSER Evil!"

In the latest DCC session, the PCs were back in Highbay (the Drug Capital of the region), and got themselves caught up with a gang war in the town while they waited to figure out what to do about Bolt-O the potential Necromancer Robot, and how to get back the Fire Demon Prince's Night Goats.

In this session, the following things were overheard:

-It's hard to be an Untouchable in a pie shop.

-"Metamphetamines, your Holiness?"

-Ack'basha the cleric survives by getting massive influxes of cash that he immediately blows on getting G.O.D. to forgive him.

-"My name is Natascha Nataschiskova, darling!"

-"We shall meet again... tonight, actually."

-Zahar the dwarf wizard was looking for a quiet inn, and found one where you're literally not allowed to make any noise.

-"Bolt-O's Guide to Necromancy is not the most well-edited of books".

-Ack'basha has got himself quite the hippie-cult.

-"I was forced to break down the door to your temple with this hippie's skull".

-Vishal has gotten the group together to do a 'quest', which consists of 'meeting a gold mutant femme fatale at third bell because she said so'.

-"My name is Boris Hatsky-Goldensten, Natascha is my current wife and future mistress"

-Natascha did a makeover on the Untouchable.

-Boris runs the Cyrilic Mafia, but his boss is Goldeater, tyrant of the city-state of Goldhalcon.

-How powerful is Goldeater? Powerful enough that every time someone says his name out loud a little song plays in the air.

-"what do you want?" "Gold" "They can't give you any gold, they eat it all".

-Natascha broke the Untouchable's heart, just like Boris had said she would.

-"Ackbasha is going to double-cross Boris.. he's broken a lot of deals lately. You know, I'm starting to wonder if we're not actually the bad guys?"

-Natascha did note that Ackbasha reminds her of Rasputin.

-Ack'basha also plans to kill Bolt-O.

-The Dwarf Wizard went to Jimmy the Ratcatcher to purchase rat parts, before remembering that every time he casts Sleep he summons a swarm of rats.

-Vishal and the Untouchable are going to infiltrate the Bharata Mafia by pretending to be a Brahmin prince and his servant, no way that can go horribly wrong.

-Ack'basha and Zahar go to see Bolt-O at city hall, only to learn he's now a city commissioner.

-"Bolt-O learned necromancy from when he was a service robot at a Necromancer's Guild, and later wrote his book on Necromancy while living in a southern continent monastery... he's led a very interesting life for a bolt-tightening robot".

-"Chief City Officer Swanlee desperately wants to get us out of his city forever, except Ack'basha reminded him that we may be the only ones capable of stopping Sandy the Dread Barbarian Queen from destroying Highbay... we're finally the LESSER evil!"

-"The brahmin will have to control his reckless loins if we have any hope of keeping up this charade!"

-the untouchable has gone "curry crazy" over the cuisine at the Bharatan Inn.

-"So Ack'basha doesn't just want to double-cross Boris, he wants to do it in the cleric's own Temple of G.O.D.?"

-"Have you noticed Ack'basha's hippie-cult talks less and less about praising G.O.D. and more about praising Ack'Basha?"

-So there's a third gang involved; and now the Vishal has to go meet the Draconians at the Den of One Thousand Lotuses and play Pai Gow with them to cement an Draconian-Bharata alliance... and he's going to do it because now he really wants an Elephant.

-The undercover guards Chief Officer Swanlee had infiltrate the area around the Temple for the sting operation on Boris and Natascha are really shitty at impersonating hippies.

-"So wait, now we're working WITH the Narcs?"

-Ack'basha orders all you hippies to shave off your hair to help the Narcs fit in!

-"so there's three gangs now?" "Four, if you count the city guard." "Five, if you count Ack'basha's cult".

-Our whole plan is becoming increasingly complex...

-You know, the Cleric is becoming the new Bill the Elf. I guess if you stare long enough into the abyss, you become a self-serving asshole.

-"Ack'basha has now taken to wandering the streets of Highbay looking for even more gangs to double cross"

-Boris: "Ok fuck this, kill everyone!" Natascha: "No, Boris, don't kill everyone, is a party!"

-"what about the city guard?" "They're all high! The attempt to get them to blend in worked too well!"

-"Ack'basha saved us!"  Zahar: "Actually, it was me..."  "Hail Ack'basha!"

-Vishal murdered the cyrilic assassins, carried the unconscious untouchable, and wanted to loot the corpses... he's officially the worst Brahmin prince ever.

-"or, MC Untouchable is the most Touchable Untouchable ever"


-What do you know? Vishal and the Untouchable's defrauding the Bharata mafia by pretending to be royalty actually turned out well enough to get an Elephant out of the deal.

-MC untouchable was this close to getting a bunch of Bharata Mafia guards to join the quest, but Vishal said he'd be fucked if he was going to keep up the 'royalty' act for the whole trip.

That's it for this session.  The PCs leave off departing Highbay heading off in the direction of the Badlands and Yeti Country, following the trail of destruction left by the Night Goats.


Currently Smoking:  Dunhill Shell Diplomat & C&D's Crowley's Best